Remember back when you had a job? Did you used to gaze out the window on company time and dream of running off to live and work in a foreign country? Maybe you’re having a tough time figuring out “What now?” Maybe that’s because your dream of working abroad got lost in the unemployment line or forgotten in your panic to make the Corvette payments. So here’s the deal: You can have it all. Or at least a big chunk of it. Maybe you won’t have as many material things as in the past, but you could be spending weekends hiking the Alps or eating real Chinese food in Taiwan once you decide to work abroad.
One of the benefits of working overseas is that everything is new and different—the food, the air, the language, and the clothing. Sure, we have bread here in the States—yawn—but in Paris, when you buy a baguette first thing in the morning, the crust crackles and the inside is moist and chewy. Vive la Difference!
Many countries, including the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, offer free or low-cost health care (no insurance premiums, deductibles, HMOs, or PPOs), and others such as Canada offer free child care and a college education combined with great health benefits.
In 2009, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that 41 percent of employers across the globe were finding it more difficult to fill jobs, specifically openings for sales representatives, skilled manual-trade people, and technicians in the areas of production/operations, engineering and maintenance. According to results of Manpower Inc.’s (manpower.com) 2009 Talent Shortage Survey, certain countries with low unemployment—including Australia, the U.K., Japan, and New Zealand—are hungry for accountants, architects, teachers, and engineers. If you are skilled as a graphic artist, ski or snowboard instructor, skydiving instructor, nurse, IT, anything in the medical field, journalist or fashion designer, you should also consider working overseas. You may not be able to live there forever, but then you could move on to another country. For information on jobs, recruitment, and work permits check out escapeartist.com, TeleportMyJob.com, overseasmanpower.com, and Craigslist, which has jobs posted from all over the world.
But before you walk away from your home and life, make sure you have what it takes to work thousands of miles away from your friends and family. Ask yourself a few basic questions: Are you a laid-back traveler or do you need the comforts of the Ritz-Carlton? Do you love to try interesting new foods or are you a picky eater? If you can’t go with the flow on a regular basis, you should probably stay home unless you’re up for the challenge.
Many ex-pat workers have lost contact with friends and others have simply “forgotten” to return home to the States to their families. Loneliness and depression are part of the job description in the beginning, but adventure, exotic locations, new languages, and cultural friendships may override the negativity. First things first: Check out some resources such as travelsignposts.com, workingin-australia.com, and bbtworldwide.com to find out how easy or difficult it will be for you to find a new job/career/life.
Once you’ve figured where you want to live, you’ll need to contact that country’s department of labor and industry as well as their immigration department. You’ll want to gather forms, read about requirements and learn what immunizations and documentation you must have before you will be allowed to work there. It may seem like a hassle, but with tenacity and good old American know-how, you’ll figure it out. Our own government can give you a hand in finding a new career overseas in the Foreign Service—careers.state.gov—but there’s a test. A really hard test. If this interests you, email them for a study guide and get out your number two pencils.
The last step in the process of moving across the pond or the border is securing a work visa. Many countries will give you a work visa for up to one year and it’s renewable, in most cases, based on a point system according to your age, skills, and education level. There are other factors that may affect your ability to get a work visa. If you are bankrupt or have a criminal record, in most cases your work visa will be denied. For more information check out the website of your country of choice. You can also click on transitionsabroad.com or maybe exploringabroad.com. Both have a plethora of information on most countries, to see what type of documentation and application materials need to be sent to the appropriate governmental agency. While you are waiting for your application to be processed it would be a good idea to contact the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service at uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis to see if you need to complete any additional paperwork in the U.S. before you say ciao, sayonara, or adios to America.
Other sites to gather information about your big move include overseasdigest.com and anamericanabroad.com.
If your adventure turns out to be gritty and soul-searching, be sure to keep a journal of your thoughts. You might find that you are a gifted poet, playwright, or novelist. Remember, back home, there’s nothing profound happening at the mall.
Candice Reed is the co-author of Thank You for Firing Me! How to Catch the Next Wave of Success After You Lose Your Job. For more articles and ideas, check out thankyouforfiringme.org
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